There was a major shake-up in the Aviation sector on Tuesday, as the Presidency removed all the heads of parastatals, except that of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).
The shake-up is coming barely three weeks after Stella Oduah, immediate past Aviation Minister, under whom all of them came into office, was relived of her appointment.
Yesterday, Gerorge Uriesi, managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nnamdi Udoh, managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Fola Akinkuotu, director -general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) ; Murktar Usman, Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB); Chinyere Kalu, Rector, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) were all removed.
A statement signed by Sam Nwaobasi, Special Assistant (Media) to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said that Usman (former commissioner at AIB) replaces Akinkuotu at NCAA, subject to confirmation by the Senate, while Benedict Adeyileka, a director of Airworthiness at NCAA is to act as director-general, pending confirmation of Usman.
Also, Felix Abali replaces Usman at AIB.
Saleh Dunouma, former director of Projects in FAAN has replaced Uriesi; Ibrahim Abdulsalam, director of Procurement in NAMA has been named as new NAMA MD, while Akinyele Caulcrick, a pilot and instructor at NCAT has been named as replacement for Kalu.
Akinkuotu had only spent six months in office after the removal of Harold Demuren as NCAA D-G.
All of them were appointed under Stella Oduah, immediate past Aviation Minister, who was removed under controversial circumstances, ranging from allegations of inflation of armoured car prices, to allegations on tinkering with her qualifications.
There was outrage in the aviation sector and across Nigeria, as many cried foul over the price of N225 million purportedly paid for two armoured cars said to have been purchased for the minister by the NCAA under Akinkuotu.
Some stakeholders who spoke to BuisnessDay at the Lagos airport, said there were hints that most of the current directors would also be removed.
One of them said their removal was expected, as the minister who appointed them left under such questionable circumstances.
“You know, if there are plans to truly probe the minister, government will not hesitate to do all the needful. One of these would be to first remove those that may cover some things up”, a stakeholder said.
Others said even though the tenure of most of those removed were yet to be completed, there was no permanent position in government.
Before he was appointed MD in FAAN, Uriesi was director of Operations under Richard Aisuebeogun, who was removed by Oduah.
Other stakeholders said the development might affect the re-assessment of the nation’s ‘Category One’ certification status by the United States Federal Aviation Administration, due in three weeks.
Some industry watchers are of the opinion that the position of director-general of the NCAA, which is the regulator of the sector, should not have been touched, as “it could be perceived as over- interference by government in the Civil Aviation industry, which could affect records and events in Nigeria’s civil Aviation industry”.
Sade Williams Tony Ailemen